Portraits of Jamel Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of fifteen, he picked up his first camera and started to document his peers. Inspired by photographers Leonard Freed, James Van Der Zee, and Gordon Parks, he was marvelled with their documentation of the African American community.

In 1980, as a concerned photographer with a clear vision, he embarked on a mission to extensively document various aspects of life in New York City, from youth culture to a wide range of social conditions. Due to its spontaneity and uniqueness, the streets and subway system became backdrops for many of his photographs.

Ultimately, his goal was, and still is to contribute to the preservation of world history and culture. In the past two decades, he has had over two dozen solo exhibitions, including “Men of Honour”, “A Time Before Crack”, “Pieces of A Man”, “Represent”, "When Two Worlds Meet”, “Back In The Days,” and “Seconds of My Life,” which have been shown around the world, from Argentina to The Netherlands, England, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and throughout the United States.

I first met Jamel in 2009, after learning about the evolution of his photography online (through my friend and colleague, Che Kothari), and developing a sense of respect for his use of the art form.

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